August 15, 2007

"Don Imus referred to my client as an unchaste woman. That was and is a lie."

Imus sued and got $20 million from CBS. Now, the basketball players are filing their lawsuits:
Today's suit refers to terms used by Imus April 4 -- including referring to women on the team as "nappy headed" -- as "debasing, demeaning, humiliating, and denigrating" to Vaughn and her fellow players. "There's no way these bigoted remarks should have seen the light of day," Ancowitz told ABC News.
I suppose the key question is whether anyone hearing Imus's (idiotic) remark would think it meant that the women actually were prostitutes. I think we often describe someone's appearance metaphorically. If you say, "she has a horse face," no one would take that literally. Such insults are rude, but they aren't lies.

It's hard not to be distracted by Imus's large pile of money. Would it kill him to share? But I'd hate to think one could win defamation suits on a theory like this.

I did just call TRex "doughy" the other day. But then, he said I had "snakes in [my] head," so I have a counterclaim. He's not literally made of dough, but then, neither is he a dinosaur, not literally. But this is a matter of rhetoric and writing/speaking style. Look at the big picture here. It's not just Imus. It's us.


rhhardin said...

I suppose the key question is whether anyone hearing Imus's (idiotic) remark would think it meant that the women actually were prostitutes.

It wasn't idiotic. This is one of the things that nobody gets right. It wasn't particulary funny, but more of a time filler, but it meant something.

Imus was mocking their choice of a dysfunctional black lifestyle, in the form of tattoos, according to what was actually said on the air by the crew.

There's even a name for a tattoo above the butt crack, a ho tag.

On his ranch, Imus threw out some boys who wouldn't stop calling the girls ho's. On his ranch, he can stop it ; off his ranch, his authority is limited to mocking.

Bender said...

The only proper response to this is simply -- Rule 11 Sanctions

Clearly some ambulance chaser thought he could make some quick cash and a name for himself, and convinced this plaintiff to file what is a patently frivolous suit.

P. Rich said...

Would it kill him to share?

What an interesting question. I wonder what NYT-inspired liberal notion spawned that.

6'4" 200 lb. black woman accuses white male of hurtful deed. Lawyer sees opportunity for personal fame and fortune. Yawn...

EnigmatiCore said...

"Look at the big picture here. It's not just Imus. It's us."

If we looked at the big picture, we would never have stupid crap like these win-the-lottery-style lawsuits, and bad laws like McCain-Feingold or Sarbanes-Oxley.

But the urge to cut the rich and powerful down to size is powerful. That's where the big picture is. The problem is us.

Anthony said...

The players could have been the heros in all this. Now they just look like a bunch of greedy, whiny, indignant little brats.

"That mean man hurt our feeeeeeelings! We must sue him for making us feel bad."

Maxine Weiss said...

Well, I for one, mean what I say. When I say I wish for my enemies to get hit by a truck....I really to mean I WANT them to get hit by a truck.

When I call someone a Jerk, I mean exactly that.

And, that is libel...calling someone a Jerk, if they are not.

Sloanasaurus said...

I agree with Anthony. The basketball players are no longer innocent. Now they are greedy shills. Imus' comments actually improved their reputation and made them famous.

I would like to see how they were able to compute the $60 million in damages.

Imus should stick it out and go to trial.

NSC said...

And, that is libel...calling someone a Jerk, if they are not.

Everyone is a jerk at some point or another and one person's saint is another person's jerk. I would love to see the character witnesses in that kind of libel suit - LOL

NSC said...

Oh yes, the players had the high road until it became all about the money. Now, not so much.

SteveR said...

What's the term? Motion for Summary Judgement? Something like that?

michael farris said...

"Imus was mocking their choice of a dysfunctional black lifestyle, in the form of tattoos"


_Tattoos_ are a dysfunctional _black_ lifestyle????

What a very, very strange idea.

PatHMV said...

rhhardin -- down here, we call it a "tramp stamp," not a "ho tag."

Ditto what the others have said about the players. They could have been heroes, now they're just greedy.

I'm sure they think they're doing it out of principle, that it's unjust for Imus to get all that money because he shouldn't have been fired for his nasty comments, while the people he was fired for insulting get nothing.

The problem is, his legal theory in the contract case was spot on. CBS paid him to say rude, nasty, insulting things. That's the show they wanted. He gave it to them. If the women don't like that CBS hired him to say those things, they should sue CBS.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if CBS didn't plan something like this all along. Get out from under the heat by firing Imus. Wait for the heat to cool down and give some room so that old friends of Imus' like Al Sharpton can get safely come to the defense of "free speech." Then pay off Imus under his contract because, hey, you're stuck under the contract. Everybody wins, except the decent people who are sickened by the popularity Imus enjoys as a result of the nasty, offensive things he gets paid millions to say on the air.

AJD said...

Imus sued and got $20 million

Oh really. That is NOT what the CBS spokesperson said. She said it was definitely less than that.

So why are you repeating an unverified -- and unverifiable -- claim which has been denied by one of the parties?

I know: more performance farts. But really professor, facts and sources should matter, even on a blog called Althouse.

Joe said...

This entire thing is silly. Imus was tacky, but it didn't rise to level of offense every is pretending (yes pretending) it did. Imus has said far more offensive and rude things.

In turn the basketball players looked liked spineless fools and posers for getting hysterical about being called names. (Yes, when a twenty-year-old cries WELL AFTER THE FACT of being called a name, they're spineless. This is, of course, ignoring the fact that if these women were anything like my daughter and friends, they'd likely used the 'ho' epithet on each other.)

Now that they're suing, they look like greedy spineless bitches--money ho's if you will.

Let's hope the court has the balls to throw the case out and remind these assholes that freedom of speech means you are allowed to say nasty things and that one sign of being an adult is to suck up and ignore verbal insults. (Unfortunately, none of the branches of government apparently believe believe in the first amendment.)

Doug said...

I wish Don Imus called me a rent boy.

jane said...

Imus got his, anywhere from an outrageous to pornographic amount. The girls just want to cash in, too; after all, they were unwilling accomplices to the legal racial offense that really warnt no employee contractual offense and which earned an already rich and famous guy lots of platinum bling from his pimpy employer.

Come on- Xmastime should be for everybody- ho ho ho!

kb said...

I should have just skipped law school and self-educated by way of the comments on this blog. For instance, that is libel...calling someone a Jerk, if they are not. Gee, that sure does sound about right.

This whole thing makes me sick. Imus should keep his money, and these women should quit drawing fouls. Self-respect is an expensive trade for the shot at an easy settlement.

I find it sad that the same people joining forces as the correctness brigade are the ones who constantly cry and whine about the infringement of their civil liberties, especially when they don't support freedom of speech on a very basic level. Let's try to be consistent, people.

Richard Fagin said...

I think for a false statement to be defamatory, it has to be reasonably understood by the relevant audience as an assertion of fact by the statement's publisher. Not only must the statement be false, but it must serve to diminish the reputation of the person that is the object of the statement. It seems unlikely that either of those two tests would be met by Imus' toilet-mouthed proclamations.

If the relevant audience reasonably thought that the women basktball players were in fact "nappy-headed hos" by reason of Imus' statement, what does that tell you about the relevant audience, never mind Don Imus.

These same young women are asserting that they have been scarred, SCARRED! by the experience of being so viciously insulted by Imus. Uh huh. No scarring that a little cash can't fade into invisbility I'm sure.

Joseph Hovsep said...

rhhardin: "dysfunctional black lifestyle"

I'm with Michael Farris. I think "????" is the only response I can muster.

ND said...

Man, I feel real bad for the injury sustained by poor nappy-headed Imus (when hes not blow-dried caucasian straight). If his contract says he can be controversial, should he call the Pope a pedophile and Muslims morons? Can he only be fired for bland and blandishment?

What's this "correctness brigade"? tort reform! We cons hate trumpedup grievance and big settlements, at least my compnay's lawyers do. Imus is not a victim to the tune of millions and millions, geez

Hi, Jane...

LarsPorsena said...

She wasn't a 'Ho' when Imus used the word on air but she sure is a big "Ho" now.

Revenant said...

It's the Butthead Astronomer case all over again.

rhhardin said...

Imus was paid to take the common man's line on things that the accepted line is timid about.

In fact, Imus was fairly timid himself, in that he had to avoid guests refusing to come on his show, and interviews were the actual meat of the show. He was probably the last to mock Princess Di's death and the media coverage, that being the point where the Imus audience began to dispair that he had turned into an old queen.

Still, McGuirk came through just often enough to keep the audience, through years and years of charities and Bush/Cheney bashing and radiothons for worthy causes and ranch talk and other forms of dead air. The audience learned to listen for cues that something was being said, and just use the rest of it for background noise.

It's ironic that such a bland throwaway line got him in the end; nobody can be timid enough to avoid that, even if they kept an audience while trying.

What got him, in fact, was Team Hillary. On the Tuesday before Nappy Wednesday, Hillary friend Donald Trump called producer McGuirk and asked if Hillary couldn't after all come on the show for an interview; no way, he was told; Hillary is somebody Imus hates more than anybody, and he says so. Trump presumably relayed the news back to the Team, and on Wednesday Media Matters distributed the first thing that was plausible stink material, and the rest is history.

Trump told of the phone call during his interview with Imus on the Friday after Nappy Wednesday, if anybody wants to check it. The sh*t was in the air at that point but had not yet hit the fan squarely, so it was not a topic yet.

So the Imus remark, in the media, is already tinged with the spin needed for Hillary's purposes - if she doesn't get on, nobody does - by the time you heard of it.

So why listen to Imus? He's by far the best interviewer on the air. Nobody else is even close.

He was also right on the nappy headed ho comment, before he changed his mind and apologized. Tattoos are not a good idea ; the 'hood lifestyle is a dead end choice.

michael farris said...

"Tattoos are not a good idea ; the 'hood lifestyle is a dead end choice"

Okay, I haven't _lived_ in the US for a number of years now but since when are tattoos associated with black people? My memories are that tons more white people (that is a much larger percent of the population) had tattoos than black people.

Since when are tattoos a 'hood thing?

Joseph Hovsep said...


Sounds like you might get along with the 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

Imus spent his career walking a dangerous line, made one too many offensive comments and paid a price. Should he be liable for defamation? No. But was his comment offensive? Hell, yes. I might engage with the argument that it was misunderstood humor or a momentary lapse, but you're saying that calling the team "nappy headed hos" was actually speaking truth to power, trying to save young black girls from falling into a dangerous life of tattoos and the 'hood? Please.

Paddy O. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paddy O. said...


It's definitely not new. There's this guy for instance.

rdkraus said...

Thank you Mr. Fagan.

rhhardin said...

I listen on the radio, so have not seen the team. They were describing what they saw on the game video.

Hmmm.. Here (real audio) , the visual icon being the tattoos, but the observation that they were a tough-looking basketball team, unlike the Tennessee team (also black). They had adopted the 'hood image for the team, ``We are like the male black basketball players,'' being the line.

(The audio has I believe 2 or 3 cuts from Nappy Wednesday, then one from Thursday when the news of the complaints first reached Imus, and then one from Friday when Imus went the maybe-a-bigger-apology route.)

Notice on the Wednesday cuts, the constant reference to the ``toughness'' of the team. It may be necessary to count them, after the publicity, but it's definitely the point of the remarks.

Sid Rosenberg is the sports guy involved ; he was constantly being fired for this or that remark, but was about the only one always worth listening to for what fans came to Imus for, in not accepting the accepted line on things. He risks everything all the time.

rhhardin said...

Imus isn't trying to save the girls. He's mocking them. A warning to others. The idea that there's nothing funny about blacks or any other ethnic group is surely one of the most insipid ones going.

There's the incident of the boys calling the girls ho's on his ranch, that he sent home early, an incident that was related long before this came up; that shows where his heart probably is. He didn't try to save the boys after the warning. He gave them the responsibility, however; which is a compliment. You're entitled to the consequences of your actions, or you won't have actions at all.

And so the basketball team was mocked. Treat it as a consequence.

Jeremy said...

I'd be ok with these ladies winning their case so long as they collect damages of 0 dollars and 0 cents. That's a fair ammount given the actual damage inflicted.

hdhouse said...

Did he name any particular woman on the team? Did he say "all", "some" or what?

Imus shares a lot of money...millions each year. As was noted before, he does an immense amount of good and puts his money where his mouth is.

Is this just blatant opportunism? Kinda on the part of the player...definitely on the part of ths shill.

as stated on another blog, had the women a blank piece of paper. have them list the damages and assign a dollar value to them...did they miss class, did they have to cough up expenses for interviews, etc., and have him pay that amount treble. toss $.50 on the floor and watch the "lawyer" who filed this suit dive and wrestle for it.

GeorgeH said...

I think they are gonna have to demonstrate her chastity in order to make unchaste a lie.

I wonder how many Gynocologists are gonna have to be called as expert witnesses? Does Imus get to have her examined by his expert witnesses?

Eli Blake said...


I agree with Anthony. The basketball players are no longer innocent. Now they are greedy shills.

Because one of them is suing Imus, the whole team is now 'greedy shills?'

That's like saying that because you are a Republican and former Congressman Foley, a Republican, is a child molester, therefore you are a child molester.

Of course that is nonsensical, and so is your statement. If all twelve members of the team (or at least all five who were on the floor at the time) all file suits then you might have a point. But one filed a suit but you are choosing to say that about all of them.

Further, it seems that Imus is cleaning up with millions of dollars from a settlement with CBS (as some posters have noted). Does that make him a 'greedy shill?' Besides her suing him doesn't mean that she will see a penny. She will if her case has some merit in the eyes of a judge and perhaps a jury. Otherwise she won't. Isn't tbat the way our system was designed?

Joe said...

Further, it seems that Imus is cleaning up with millions of dollars from a settlement with CBS (as some posters have noted). Does that make him a 'greedy shill?'

No, he sued over a fairly clear breach of contract.

Isn't t[h]at the way our system was designed?

No, it wasn't designed for the frivolous lawsuits clogging our court systems. There is a tacit assumption that prosecuting attorney's understand the first amendment. (Of course, there is a tacit understanding that Senators and the US Supreme Court understand the first amendment. They demonstrably don't, so I suppose I'm wrong on this count.)

Troy said...

And now they just proved they have no class (whichever of the women filed the suit). "Crybabies" would be a better term.

Methadras said...

At this point, the only thing I can surmise is that a basketball player that was disparaged or the group of them was essentially waiting to see what the outcome of the Imus contract lawsuit with CBS would be. And once it was either adjudicated in civil courts with a judgment or settled out of court like it has been, then they did the only obvious thing, they are now going after the settlement money. I'll even bet that the papers were already written up some time ago to coincide with a judgment or settlement. God, sometimes I had the tort system. It's so predatory and repugnant at times.

Gedaliya said...

Imus is surely delighted by the suit. This is free publicity of the most desirable sort. It feeds right into his comeback plans and will surely get him a bigger deal from whoever wins the bidding war for his services.

I think it was Twain who said that you should beware picking a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.

Imus is going to milk this frivolous suit for all its worth, and I bet that means millions (for him....nothing but humiliation and heartache for her).

Pissed Off Hillbilly said...

Their reputations were harmed?
There's not a handful of people in the country that could name one of these players.

Revenant said...

Imus is surely delighted by the suit. This is free publicity of the most desirable sort.

Most definitely. Before this, Imus was the guy who insulted a group of honest and hard-working athletes. Now he's the guy getting attacked by greedy college kids and their ambulance-chasing attorney.

Douglas said...

My Co-blogger/bloggers call me fat, and I keep correcting them in saying that I'm "just soft."

Can I sue?

I wouldn't want to, cuz I'm not a wussbag.

ricpic said...

I thought freedom of speech meant the right to say offensive things. Imus didn't foment a lynching. He just called nappy headed hos nappy headed hos. I'm down wid dat.

Sloanasaurus said...

But one filed a suit but you are choosing to say that about all of them.

You are right. I meant the one basketball player. Unfortunately for the others, many will make the same generalization that I did.

Cedarford said...

The Rutgers women basketball team did a full frontal Victimhood act about how hurtful the rap words were to them when used by an old white guy and the Media-Lapped-It-Up.

The usual suspects in the black race-bait for profit ranks, angry feminist lawyers, opportunistic Jewish and Gentile lawyers piled on. Demanding Imus apologize, be fired, be sued for saying what the guys whose albums the Rutgers Team played at warmups and rallies - said.

What is largely unsaid is that a bunch of bigoted black journalists/leaders, opportunistic white ones, cable talk show hosts and guests defamed the equally innocent, equally young, equally admirable Duke Lacrosse Team players far worse.

And none was denounced, delivered any apolgy when asked about their false claims of rape, depravity, physical assault, racism, and arrogant "white privilege and lust for all black women". None. None, who were essentially no different than Imus in their reckless, bigoted, hurtful remarks.

I suppose the difference is that Imus was half-joking while the Lacrosse Team smearers were dead serious and meant every word they said.

Plus, rather than lionize the Duke coach, as they did with Vivian Stringer, they demanded the head of the Coach of the "Duke Gang Rapists" - and got it.

As for the "drinking and partying and racist comment by one to a stripper's racist comment" - the lynch mob of the media, agenda-driven feminists and black bigots dug for any dirt they could find on the Duke Lacrosse Team and publicized any misdemeanor they could get - which were few.

The media carefully avoided scrutiny on the Rutgers Team. Had they looked, they would have found that a sizeable number of "Stringer" graduates are now single mothers on welfare, that several have criminal records, that one from the 2006 team was put behind bars for a while for kidnapping, drug use, and terroristic threatening. And avoided mentioning that coaches of other NCAA teams had complained in the past about Stringer's players "excessive rough play, intimidation, obscenities used on court, and race-baiting trash talking against opposing white players".

If the one player sues with her ambulance-chaser shyster Ancowitz, look for other players facing a return to the 'hood to join in for a payday - some buried nasty stuff on the Rutgers team to come out.

And for the media - representing the Left, and black bigots - to absolutely tie themselves in knots if the Lacrosse players follow the Rutgers lead and go for the heads of famous cable TV talk show hosts and black bigot/feminist/Lefty journalists - as going "Waaaaay over the line!"

reader_iam said...

You're entitled to the consequences of your actions, or you won't have actions at all.

This may be one of the most profound statements of its type that I've seen in the comments section of this blog, or any blog, in a long while.

Just wanted to make note of that.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Well, if you said "She's a ho of a basketball player" it may be your opinion, but it suggests that you have undisclosed facts that show she is a terrible basketball player, which is slander per se, as it relates to her business or trade.

S said...

This is actually kind of appropriate.

I was paying attention to the Rutgers team as they beat UConn in Connecticut for their conference title, then Michigan State at Michigan State (even though they had a better seed than Michigan State), then Duke in North Carolina, and finally lost in the championship game.

I thought pretty highly of them then. Now, after this Imus thing, I think less highly of them. Of course, that's less because of his comment than their reaction to it, but if not for his statement, I wouldn't have lost respect for them.

Luckyoldson said...

Anybody here refer to their daughters as ho's?

reader_iam said...

I don't refer to anybody as "ho's," but then again, I don't generally refer to anybody in the dismissive ways that I see people routinely refer to others.

Including you, Luckyoldson.

It's just a matter of picking poisons, making distinctions without, in the end, difference--because, in the end, it's all about the dismissing, dontcha know.

Pogo said...

1. Happy to Be Nappy
by bell hooks

2. Ludacris - Ho
Hooooooooo (Ho)
Youza Hoooooo (Ho)
Youza Hoooooo (Ho)
I said that youza hooooo (Ho)
(Repeat 1x)

You doin ho activities
With ho tendencies
Hos are your friends, hoes are your enemies
With ho energy to do whacha do
Blew whacha blew
Screw whacha screw

Cant turn a ho into a housewife
Hos dont act right
Theres hos on a mission, an hoes on a crackpipe
Hey ho how ya doin, where ya been?
Prolly doin ho stuff cuz there you ho again
Its a ho wide world, that we livin in
feline, feminine, fantastical, women
Not all, just some
You ho who you are

You hos are horrible, horrendous
On taxes ya'll writin off hos as dependents
I see tha ho risin
it aint surprisin
its just a hoasis
with ugly chicks faces
but hos dont feel so sad and blue
cuz most of us niggaz is hos too

(chorus x2)

Muthafuckas im so tiired of yall niggaz always talkin
bout hos this, hos that, you tha muthafuckin ho nigga
I wasnt no ho last night"

So where's Ludacris' lawsuit?

hdhouse said...

Not for nothing but Imus frequently referred to his wife as a "ho" it "my ho won't let me do that" or "my ho kicks my ass when i get home" type of thing.

I said then as I say now. Much ado about the usual fare for Imus in the Morning. When the catholic church sues Bernard McGuirk for his screamingly funny and highly obscene "Cardinal" with the fed-ex box on his head let me know.

Mindsteps said...

jane said...
Imus got his, anywhere from an outrageous to pornographic amount. The girls just want to cash in, too; a......

Come on- Xmastime should be for everybody- ho ho ho!!


jane said...

All I can figger is there’s “nappy,” which is fine as a non-sneering self-description of hair, and then there’s “ho,” which is appropriate for prostitutes, for females who give too many men too much of what they want, for big settlement plaintiffs (to include nappy BB players or frizzy shock jocks) and for Santa Claus.

Put the two words together and apply them to a specific group of wimmin, and, this is important, toward people not of your tribe, then you’ve committed racial offense. Not sure how a class action suit on behalf of African-American women everywhere would work out against Ludacris the crude sexist. But he probably has enough lovely jewelry (and 24 k teeth) to apportion some bling to each one, were a judgment made in their favor.

Mindsteps said...

Obviously there are many ways to look at it. Many of the readers here seem to take the perspective that older rich white guy, Imus enhanced his image by filing a lawsuit and allegedly collecting 20 million while a younger black woman is tarnishing her image by filing a lawsuit and trying to collect on it.

jane said...

I actually agree with you, Mindsteps. First time, maybe, but that's how things start... :)

Conservatives (I are one) usually rail against big settlements, but I suppose it depends on whose Principle is being served. Imus was offensive, fired, and collected big. The girls are just on the receiving end of offense and should shuffle off. Two points to the aggrieved rich guy.

Mindsteps said...

jane said...
I actually agree with you, Mindsteps. First time, maybe, but that's how things start... :)

Conservatives (I are one)

Sometimes I'm liberal, sometimes conservative, mostly I harbor resentment towards people in authority who are richer, more talented, and better looking than me and I take peverse pleasure in being a pain in the ass.

jane said...

LOL! I'm not a resenter, just don't like double standards. But have fun.

kimsch said...

Imus received a settlement based on a contractual relationship between CBS and him. Kia Vaughan doesn't have a contractual relationship with any of the parties. She's the one who is bringing her "good name" to the attention of the country as it relates to being called a "nappy headed ho". Were it not for this lawsuit, the renewed interested in the case based on the Imus/CBS suit would have blown over even quicker than the 15 minutes the first episode lasted...

Joe said...

One thing I'm genuinely puzzled about--the headline quote is that "Don Imus referred to my client as an unchaste woman. That was and is a lie."

Is this woman's lawyer claiming that his client is a virgin? If that's the crux of the claim, it seems to me that this woman may soon regret litigating this matter.

BJK said...

I would just love this case to go forward to see Imus' attorney use the Norm McDonald defense:

"No, not you, Ma'am...
I was talking about the other Nappy headed hos."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but he didn't actually single out any one player(s) as qualifying for that description.

I suppose one could at least make the argument that he was talking about the whole team in a collective sense....but that's a bit of a stretch, IMO.

Kirby Olson said...

Her philosophy comes straight out of Simone de Beauvoir and Maoist Tel quel's notion of how to create a politically correct nation.

Hopefully the first amendment will hold.